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as to the manner in which he caught her. She both yielded and became his wife, and her first words to her husband were these: "Willingly will I serve thee, and with whole-hearted obedience, until that day when, desirous of sallying forth in the direction of the cries beyond the ILyfni, thou shalt strike me with thy bridle "—the ILyfni is a burn near the mere. And this came to pass: after presenting him with a numerous offspring she was struck by him with the bridle, and on his returning home, he found her running away with her offspring, and he pursued her, but it was with difficulty that he got hold even of one of his sons, and he was named Trinio (?) Faglog.'
The story, as it proceeds, mentions Trinio engaged in battle with the men of a prince who seems to have been no other than Brychan of Brycheiniog, supposed to have died about the middle of the fifth century. The battle was disastrous to Trinio and his friends, and Trinio was never seen afterwards; so Walter Mapes reports the fact that people believed him to have been rescued by his mother, and that he was with her living still in the lake. Giraldus calls it lacus tlle de Brecheniauc magnus et famosus, quem et Clamosum dicunt, 'that great and famous lake of Brecknock which they also call Clamosus,' suggested by the Welsh JLyn JLefni, so called from the river K.efni, misinterpreted as if derived from ttef'a. cry.' With this lake he connects the legend, that at the bidding of the rightful Prince of Wales, the birds frequenting it would at once warble and sing. This he asserts to have been proved in the case of Gruffud, son of Rhys, though the Normans were at the time masters of his person and of his territory1. After dwelling on the varying colours of the lake he adds the following statement:—Ad hac etiam totus oedificiis consertus, culturis cgregiis, hortis ornatus et pomeriis, ab accolis quandoque conspicitur, 'Now and then also it is seen by the neighbouring inhabitants to be covered with buildings, and adorned with excellent farming, gardens, and orchards.' It is remarkable as one of the few lakes in Wales where the remains of a crannog have been discovered, and while Mapes gives it as only two miles round, it is now said to be about five; so it has sometimesl been regarded as a stockaded island rather than as an instance of pile dwellings.
1 See the ltincrarium Kambria, i. 3 (pp. 33-5), and Celtic Britain, p. 64.
In the Brython for 1863, pp. 114-15, is to be found what purports to be a copy of a version of the Legend of ILyn Syfadon, as contained in a manuscript of Hugh Thomas' in the British Museum. It is to the effect that the people of the neighbourhood have a story that all the land now covered by the lake belonged to a princess, who had an admirer to whom she would not be married unless he procured plenty of gold: she did not care how. So he one day murdered and robbed a man who had money, and the princess then accepted the murderer's suit, but she felt uneasy on account of the reports as to the murdered man's ghost haunting the place where his body had been buried. So she made her admirer go at night to interview the ghost and lay it. Whilst he waited near the grave he heard a voice inquiring whether the innocent man was not to be avenged, and another replying that it would not be avenged till the ninth generation. The princess and her lover felt safe enough and were married: they multiplied and became numerous, while their town grew to be as it were another Sodom; and the original pair lived on so astonishingly long that they saw their descendants of the ninth generation. They exulted in their prosperity, and one day held a great feast to celebrate it; and when their descendants were banqueting with them, and the gaiety and mirth were at their zenith, ancestors and descendants were one and all drowned in a mighty cataclysm which produced the present lake.
1 As for example in the Archaologia Cambrensis for 1870, pp. 193-8; see also 1873, pp. 146-8. .
Lastly may be briefly mentioned the belief still lingering in the neighbourhood, to the effect that there is a town beneath the waters of the lake, and that in rough weather the bells from the church tower of that town may be heard ringing, while in calm weather the spire of the church may be distinctly seen. My informant, writing in 1892, added the remark: 'This story seems hardly creditable to us, but many of the old people believe it.'
I ought to have mentioned that the fifteenth-century poet Lewis Glyn Cothi connects with Syfadon1 Lake an afanc legend; but this will be easier to understand in the light of the more complete one from the banks of the river Conwy. So the reader will find Glyn Cothi's words given in the next chapter.
1 Howells has also an account of ILyn Swain, as he writes it: see his Cambrian Superstitions, pp. too 2, where he quaintly says that the story of the wickedness of the ancient lord of Syfacton is assigned as the reason why 'the superstitious little river Lewenny will not mix its water with that of the lake.' Lewenny is a reckless improvement of Mapes' Leueni (printed Lenem)" and Giraldus' Clamosum implies an old spelling ILefni, pronounced the same as the later spelling ILyfni, which is now made into ILynfi or ILynvi: the river so called flows through the lake and into the Wye at Glasbury. As to Safadan or Syfadon, it is probably of Goidelic origin, and to be identified with such an Irish name as the feminine Samthann : see Dec. 19 in the Martyrologies. To keep within our data, we are at liberty to suppose that this was the name of the wicked princess in the story, and that she was the ancestress of a clan once powerful on and around the lake, which lies within a Goidelic area indicated by its Ogam inscriptions.
In th'olde dayes of the king Arthour,
Of which that Britons speken greet honour,
Al was this land fulfild of fayerye.
The elf-queen, with hir joly companye,
Daunced ful ofte in many a grene mede;
This was the olde opinion, as I rede.
I speke of manye hundred yeres ago.
The best living authority I have found on the folklore of Bedgelert, Drws y Coed, and the surrounding district, is Mr. William Jones, of ILangotten. He has written a good deal on the subject in the Brython, and in essays intended for competition at various literary meetings in Wales. I had the loan from him of one such essay, and I have referred to the Brython; and I have also had from Mr. Jones a number of letters, most of which contain some additional information. In harmony, moreover, with my usual practice, I have asked Mr. Jones to give me a little of his own history. This he has been kind enough to do; and, as I have so far followed no particular order in these jottings, I shall now give the reader the substance of his letters in English, as I am anxious that no item should be lost or left inaccessible to English students of folklore. What is unintelligible to me may not be so to those who have made a serious study of the subject. Mr. Jones' words are in substance to the following effect:—
'I was bred and born in the parish of Bedgelert, one of the most rustic neighbourhoods and least subject to change in the whole country. Some of the old Welsh customs remained within my memory, in spite of the adverse influence of the Calvinistic Reformation, as it is termed, and I have myself witnessed several Knitting Nights and Nuptial Feasts (Neithiorau), which, be it noticed, are not to be confounded with weddings, as they were feasts which followed the weddings, at the interval of a week. At these gatherings song and story formed an element of prime importance in the entertainment at a time when the Reformation alluded to had already blown the blast of extinction on the Merry Nights (Noswyliau Lawen) and Saints' FetesI (Gwyliau Mabsant) before the days of my youth, though many of my aged acquaintances remembered them well, and retained a vivid recollection of scores of the amusing tales which used to be related for the best at the last mentioned long-night meetings. I have heard not a few of them reproduced by men of that generation. As an example of the old-fashioned habits of the people of Bedgelert in my early days, I may mention the way in which wives and children used to be named. The custom was that the wife never took her husband's family name, but retained the one she had as a spinster. Thus my grandmother on my mother's side was called Ellen Hughes, daughter to Hugh Williams,
1 These were held, so far as I can gather from the descriptions usually given of them, exactly as I have seen a kermess or kirchmesse celebrated at Heidelberg, or rather the village over the Neckar opposite that town. It was in 1869, but I forget what saint it was with whose name the kermess was supposed to be connected: the chief features of it were dancing and beer drinking. It was by no means unusual for a Welsh Gwyl Fabsant to bring together to a rural neighbourhood far more people than could readily be accommodated ; and in Carnarvonshire a hurriedly improvised bed is to this day called gwely g'l'absant, as it were 'a bed (for the time) of a saint's festival.' Rightly or wrongly the belief lingers that these merry gatherings were characterized by no little immorality, which made the better class of people set their faces against them.